18 July 2023
City changes tune toward well-located affordable housing but doesn’t change progress
On 18 July 2017 the City of Cape Town announced the proposed development of social housing on 11 parcels of public land in Woodstock, Salt River and the inner city. Since then, Ndifuna Ukwazi and Reclaim the City have reviewed this commitment annually, noting a deeply concerning lack of progress.
The lack of implementation is appalling and unacceptable. After six years, we are yet to see the beginning of construction of even a single social housing unit implemented in the inner city. While Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has announced the release of land in City Council, this has little material impact on people’s lives until the homes are actually built. We agree with the need to follow proper legal processes to release land but there is a clear lack of urgency to deliver. The celebration before Council and in the City’s media releases is not matched by action in ensuring that the proposed developments materialise. To make matters worse, many of the projects were first proposed in the mid-2000s, again demonstrating a profound lack of urgency.
said Robyn Park-Ross, researcher at Ndifuna Ukwazi
The lack of progress on inner city social & affordable housing projects and ongoing delays in releasing an inclusionary housing policy directly contribute to poor and working class people being pushed out of well-located areas.
About the 11 Sites
Since 1994 not a single social or affordable home has been built in the inner city by the state. In July 2017, the City of Cape Town promised to release 11 pieces of well-located public land in the inner-city, Woodstock and Salt River so that the sites could be developed into affordable housing, including social and transitional housing. This commitment was an important stride towards tackling spatial apartheid, but 6 years down the line these promises ring empty.
- Out of the 11 sites, the Pine Road site has been sitting vacant since 2019 (even though suspended MAYCO member Malusi Booi held a groundbreaking ceremony in December of the same year).
- The Salt River Market site was released last year, but there has been no resolution for the relocation of the people living on the site for the last decade which is required for the development to proceed.
- While small procedural steps are being taken, sites like Dillon Lane and Pickwick also remain empty. Only 19 units of transitional housing have been completed over the entire 6 year period – the smallest and most temporary of all the developments committed in 2017.
Ndifuna Ukwazi published a report titled Spatial Justice Delayed? in 2021 about the slow pace of these developments, but we are yet to see any significant progress since.
The demand of Reclaim the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi is for the City of Cape Town to urgently deliver affordable housing in well-located areas to accommodate people who could otherwise not afford to live close to jobs, schools, hospitals and other services that are necessary to live decent lives and achieve upward mobility.
Ultimately, we are calling for all spheres of government to undo the legacy of spatial apartheid.
“How long is acceptable for people to wait for inner city social housing? Is six years enough to develop? Each day tenants facing exorbitant rents and rates approach our clinic in search of inner city affordable housing. These delays are shredding peoples connection to place and neighbourhoods, rather than redressing the injustices of the past” said Park-Ross.
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